The German printing industry association (BVDM) recently published its 2021 print industry statistics, which includes an overview of print application revenues. Ralf Schlözer takes a look at print revenue growth in Germany and the impact the pandemic and post-pandemic recovery had on individual print applications.
SpeedPro Chicago Loop won the franchise’s “Project of the Year” with the immersive “Dream Chicago” event, in partnership with St. Jude Children’s Hospital and Arena Partners. SpeedPro Chicago Loop President and Owner Eric Lazar writes about the design and installation of this project.
Since 1958, Flexographic Technical Association (FTA) has been enabling flexographers to grow their skills, connect with likeminded individuals, expand their reachable markets, and drive flexography to package printing dominance.
The pandemic may have been a boon for books with people looking for things to do during lockdowns and reduced travel. But that boost is likely temporary and may be hiding a core failure of the industry to update business practices to meet changing demographics, competition from other types of entertainment, and the growth in self-publishing.
A graphene-based ink. A suspicious biometric in a smartwatch ad. A newspaper for a single retirement community has a higher circulation than a lot of metro dailies. A magazine we’d like to see. 3D billboards get more extreme. A gallery of the objects that librarians have found in returned library books. Kentucky’s Depression-era “horseback librarians.” Why do metal bands love umlauts? Is baseball ready for robo umpires? A dead mosquito provides crucial evidence in a burglary case. “AI litter boxes”—hopefully for cats. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly monkeypox miscellany.
Marketers must work harder than ever to establish that all-important connection with their customers so they can foster loyalty and build trust. Communicating with customers based on their age is a sound strategy, but it must be done correctly. Effective age-based marketing can provide a much higher return on investment than attempting to group all consumers into a single audience.
We all love bright colors in our garments and home decor, but much of this color comes from toxic dyes that have deleterious effects on the environment. We congratulate professionals like Phoebe Lewis, an industrial designer focusing on developing products that help restore marine ecosystems and coastal communities, for her work in creating natural dyes from seaweed that could replace some of those toxic alternatives.
When was the last time you thought about influencer marketing? It’s a powerful marketing tool, and it’s growing. For PSPs, influencer marketing should be seen as a channel like any other. There are plenty of ways for PSPs to add value to an influencer campaign.
Two trade groups invite printers in Pennsylvania, Delaware, New Jersey, and New York to seek fitting recognition for their best work—Neographics, the industry’s largest regional competition for excellence in print.
With the aging out of skilled labor in the print and packaging industry, engaging and training new hires in the intricacies of print is becoming a problem. David Zwang looks at Canon’s Press automation modules, which can simplify the process while optimizing quality and productivity for new and even older digital presses.
We are well into the second half of the calendar year, and to ensure a profitable end to your year, take a few minutes to look at what is in your pipeline, what has been onboarded, and what is in production. Is it what you expect? Pat McGrew offers some tips for evaluating your YTD performance.
There is a growing increase in orders for short-run on-demand packaging to satisfy shifting consumer purchasing requirements and operate at the “speed of retail.” However, while there are opportunities, there are many complexities not seen in commercial print that require a level of expertise not necessarily found in the producers’ kitchen, basement, or garage.
In the pre-pandemic years, the number of printing programs were in decline due to lack of interest and budget, and we have been unsuccessful in attempts to reverse this trend. Lou Caron discusses some potential solutions.
How vegan is vegan leather, and what is the future of this alternative to animal-based leather? In this article, we summarize the literature on the topic, including how damaging animal-based leather is to the environment, the different types of so-called vegan leather, and the future of truly 100% plant-based leather, an important element of a sustainable future.
An heirloom app ensures your digital presence outlasts you. A “Reddit chart of compound pejoratives.” Carlsberg’s dubious attempt at a wooden bottle. Upcycling discarded EV batteries to harvest graphene. Alexa goes full Black Mirror. The growing trend of “gravestone recipes.” Taco Bell’s new human-less drive-through. The first cat-to-human COVID transmission. A “giant, nuclear-powered ‘hotel airplane’” stays aloft for years. Buy a haunted bat for $250K. Three words: “Nerf rocket launcher.” General Mills’ new “cereal-inspired candles.” All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly miscellany.
According to the latest, just-released edition of County Business Patterns, in 2020 there were 23,393 establishments in NAICS 323 (Printing and Related Support Activities). This represents a decline of 20% since 2010. In macro news, Q2 GDP estimates are bearish—but that may not be cause for concern.
Today’s marketers have a wide variety of options to choose from when it comes to reaching their desired audience members. Direct mail can be a great way to get noticed, even in a digital world. Unfortunately, businesses that don’t understand how to create compelling pieces of direct mail are unlikely to reap the benefits that they can offer. This article explores how marketers can develop direct mail pieces that truly make an impact and encourage engagement.
Home decor is a hot market, and wallpaper, which had fallen into disfavor over the years, is making a comeback, fueled largely by the high-quality, fast turn, customized wall covering products now enabled by digital printing solutions. Printer manufacturers like Xeikon are offering turnkey wall covering production solutions, and companies like Spoonflower see high demand for custom wall coverings from its maker community. In this article, complements of textiles expert and WhatTheyThink contributor Debbie McKeegan, PONGS Group explains how they use digitally printed wallcoverings to add drama, scope, and style to their designer kitchens.
Digital embellishments allow printers to embrace the power of touch by creating enhanced, desirable, memorable, and valuable brand experiences. And when there is perceived value, there is a willingness to pay a premium. Contributor Joanne Gore identifies three opportunities for PSPs to add value—and profitability—with digital embellishments.
How do you incorporate QR codes into a successful marketing campaign? You don’t make it about the QR code. You make it about problem-solving. Heidi Tolliver-Walker highlights several great use cases from a MindFire webinar that provide great problem-solving insights—whether you are incorporating QR codes or not.
European section editor Ralf Schlözer reports from Print4All, the largest European printing equipment fair this year, held May 3 to 6 at the Fiera Milano exhibition ground. The fair showcased several notable packaging printing and converting product introductions.
We recently wrapped up our Top 100 Commercial Printers for 2022 and, since we have been conducting this survey for more than 15 years, mining the database of past results can provide some valuable info about how the industry has changed—and how it might continue to change. In the inaugural installment of this series, we look at how print applications have changed over the past decade.
According to the World Economic Forum, Gen Zers—those born between 1997 and 2012—will make up 27% of the work force by 2025. And they will bring with them an entirely new set of needs, requirements, and challenges for the workplace. Is your company prepared? We rounded up some information about what Gen Zers are looking for and how companies are—or are not—responding.
Clipping printed coupons is on the decline. Core77 Visual Communications Design Award winners. Making leather from pineapple leaves. A cursed object trifecta: books, a phone number, and a Kleenex ad. A grant to develop graphene-based sustainable housing construction materials. Air New Zealand is adding beds to its economy class. The keys to an effective workout playlist. Designing Saucony’s Endorphin sneaker launch event. What the optimal number of times you should flip a hamburger? French’s introduced a mercifully short-lived ketchup pop. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly miscellany.
In this story, compliments of textiles expert and WhatTheyThink contributor Debbie McKeegan, five winners of the prestigious Central Saint Martins Maison/O Green Trail competition demonstrate how the next generation of textile professionals is working to address the climate emergency. Their submissions range from transformational garments to production methods that scale textile dyeing with bacteria and spatial design that supports reforestation.
“3D printing” is one of those terms that can mean different things to different people. In the signage industry, 3D printing is often referred to as “2+D”—using UV flatbeds to layer ink into three-dimensional textures—and braille lettering for ADA signage. And new units are facilitating the process.
Look at everything as a project and you will find that you need to define everything a lot better. Goals, roles, and constraints get confused with most project and that causes a lot of project failure.
Utah-based Raspberry Creek Fabrics recently received a patent for unique web-to-print software for roll-to-roll fabric printing which automates the step-and-repeat process in a way that creates the smallest possible file, speeding the printing process. Senior editor Cary Sherburne talked to co-founder Justin Rammell about the process.
Is it possible to create effective AR scenes without a team of tech-savvy designers? Or spending tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of dollars? Is AR finally ready to be used even by small and mid-sized shops to solve business problems for their customers? Here is a step-by-step look at what it took to create an AR holotwin and a QR code showing the final result. Readers can judge for themselves.
You should be using data to guide your sales planning, and you should be revisiting the data you collect on a regular cadence because things change. In part one of this feature, Pat McGrew looked at how to gather and evaluate internal data. In part two, she looks at how external data can influence your sales plans.
Industrial revolutions have been driving global change for centuries, and one thing is certain: they will continue to happen at an increasingly rapid rate. As an industry, we have a way to go, but to succeed you need to look at the transformation process as a journey and not expect to do it all at once.
Trish Witkowski reports from last week’s AMPLIFY—a first-of-its-kind event presented by Association for Print Technologies (APTech) and the Foil and Specialty Effects Association (FSEA). The event centered around the topic of value-added print finishing and embellishment, and boasted the latest and greatest in technology, equipment, materials, inspiration, and thought leadership.
Bobst recently held a press event to detail its developments in packaging connectivity, digitalization, automation, and sustainability. European section editor Ralf Schlözer reports from Mex, Switzerland.
The new frontier for production inkjet is high-quality, high-coverage, graphic arts applications. The challenge in this market is to precisely place high amounts of liquid ink onto porous, and non-porous, materials and dry them at high speed without damage. The very small number of presses serving this market is a testament to the difficulty of meeting this challenge. Today, we have a new entrant with a unique approach to delivering quality while driving up the economic equivalent order quantity between inkjet and offset.
Subscription services and fashion boxes for apparel—the ability for consumers to sign up for periodic boxes of personalized clothing selections—predated the pandemic, but arguably, these services prospered along with the rest of ecommerce as a result of retail closures, work-from-home, and a general concern with going out in public. Will that success carry forward as we enter the endemic stage of COVID? And how do these services rank from a sustainability perspective?
Op-Ed by Harvey R. Levenson, Ph.D.. The joint venture between the Association for PRINT Technologies (APTech) and WhatTheyThink, in my opinion, is a “stroke of genius” and an example of how an association and a media organization can combine intellectual resources for the greater good of the graphic communication/printing industry.
Welsh artist Polly Verity folds paper into “into elegantly suggestive sculptures.” A graphene-based e-tattoo measures blood pressure. Just-discontinued Internet Explorer gets a gravestone. Ikea has a new AR app to delete your furniture and replace it with Ikea’s. How to laugh online in 26 languages. The short-changed designer who created Nike’s Swoosh. Hacking into a “smart Jacuzzis.” A British photographer captured a transit of the ISS across the Sun. Velveeta launches cheese-scented nail polish, for some reason. A guitar made out of French fries. Kate Bush’s welcome return to the charts. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly miscellany.
According to County Business Patterns, in 2010, US establishments in NAICS 32312 had an annual payroll of $1.4 billion. Payrolls declined steadily over the course of the 2010s, closing out the decade at $1.0 billion in 2019. However adjusting for inflation, payrolls declined by -38% over the course of the decade. In macro news: AIA’s Architecture Billings Index (ABI) indicates that demand for design services remains strong, boding well for commercial real estate construction and thus signage projects.
Summer has officially arrived, so everyone is gearing up for nicer weather and more daylight to enjoy the great outdoors. Of course, caring for our planet now will help ensure that the outdoors can be enjoyed for generations to come. People are becoming increasingly conscious about the detrimental impact that certain processes can have on our environment, so it’s more important than ever for brands to position themselves as sustainable and environmentally sound.
Quite often errors only become visible once a textile design is printed on fabric. The printing machine is blamed most of the time for these errors, especially when the resolution is so high that every file error becomes visible when printed. In this article, provided compliments of textiles expert and WhatTheyThink contributor Debbie McKeegan, Jos Notermans of SPG Prints explains how to avoid these costly errors, beginning with proper design.
RR Donnelly commissioned an online survey of 300 procurement, brand marketing, and packaging engineering decision makers to provide insights that inform strategy, priorities, and investments. Survey participants are located in the U.S. across a variety of industry sectors. The results are summarized in this article.
Think augmented reality is just for brand-building and entertainment? Think again. It is now being used to drive real, practical results for businesses, educational institutions, and nonprofits. Here is a look at how AR jump-started engagement with one college’s recycling program.
Evaluating and buying software can be overwhelming, especially if the software segment is mature and therefore has hundreds of features to it. It is hard to keep track of which solution has which features, let alone evaluating if they will work in your environment.
HP Indigo held its first VIP event in three years in Israel May 24 and 15. European section editor Ralf Schlözer reports from the event, and highlights several technology introductions—as well as a few “on the horizon.”
Digital embellishment technologies are on the rise, and are making high-end luxurious prints easier and cheaper to do than ever before. Yet the biggest challenge most PSPs encounter is still linked to file design. Guest contributor Kevin Abergel explains how it is still the “wild west” when it comes to embellishment technologies and formats—and it’s not clear who should be leading the charge in educating designers.
Colleges, universities, vocational schools and high schools are discontinuing graphic arts programs—even though students pursuing careers in print are much more likely to land successful positions upon graduation than students who’ve majored in web design, gaming, or computer science. Steve Johnson explains how to cultivate the next generation of printing employees.
Sourcing Journal recently conducted an in-person sustainability summit in New York titled “The Road to 2030.” Sourcing Journal Founder and president Edward Hertzman spoke with Senior Editor Cary Sherburne to explain why this summit was different from other sustainability events and why he is optimistic that substantial changes will occur in the industry by the time 2030 rolls around.
April 2022 shipments came in at $6.67 billion, down from March’s $7.03 billion. The general trend in all but two of the last seven years has been for April shipments to decline from March’s. That’s not really good news but suggests we’re at least getting back to normal.
BookTok has caused a “print book revolution.” Modern online brands reinterpreted as their old-school forebears. Yesterday was Bloomsday—and the 100th anniversary of the publication of “Ulysses.” A prototype of a laptop that uses an e-paper-based display. Florida’s invasive lionfish is an excellent source of “fish leather.” Graphene makes wigs more durable. Adding robotic insect legs to household objects. One step closer to space-based solar energy-collecting satellites. Polystyrene-eating beetle larvae could hold the clues to dealing with plastic waste. Fired gas station manager accidentally charges 69¢ a gallon for gas; may become local folk hero. A new airplane seat design looks horrifying. A dog bed for humans. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly miscellany.
As the industry and the world returns to in-person events, the recent FESPA exhibition in Berlin is a good example of the pent-up energy after a long virtual experience induced by the pandemic. FESPA Global Print Expo 2022 brought the specialty print community together for four motivational days in Berlin (May 31 to June 3, 2022), in an atmosphere of overwhelming positivity that affirmed the industry’s readiness to bounce back from the challenges of the last two years.
For many years, the sustainability discussion in wide-format printing has centered on ink technologies but, like elsewhere in the printing industry, other, more pressing issues have come to the fore, typically centered around overall product use and end of life concerns. Richard Romano takes a closer look.
What is the state of retail personalization in 2022? A study conducted by Coresight Research on behalf of Sailthru shows significant disconnects between what retailers think is important and what consumers think is important. The survey, “Retail Personalization in 2022,” looks at the difference in perceptions between consumers and retailers on a variety of issues related to retail personalization and data privacy, as well as areas such as loyalty programs and channel usage.
It is estimated that some 60% of apparel is made of petroleum-based polyester or polyester blends, but there are several initiatives underway to develop more sustainable fibers that are made from natural materials. Cary Sherburne looks at four of these new, cutting-edge fibers being developed for apparel.
Total automation is a common dream in the print industry (a custom manufacturing industry where the customer provides a key part of the manufacturing process at the time of purchase!). There are dreams and there is the reality of what is operationally possible with your business (a collection of constraints).
You should be using data to guide your sales planning, and you should be revisiting the data you collect on a regular cadence because things change. But there is a lot of potential data—some of it is useful in helping to set sales plans, and some of it could be considered noise. Pat McGrew helps you determine which is which.
Production inkjet is not new, but increasingly we are seeing it used in bespoke solutions that address many disparate manufacturing requirements. Importantly, this technology can also provide sustainable solutions.
The FESPA Global Print Expo 2022 was held May 31 to June 3 in Berlin, Germany. European section editor Ralf Schlözer was there, and highlights some of the major announcements and offers his initial impressions of the event.
As so often happens, entrepreneurs in the textiles and apparel industry are driving change in the U.S. market. While digitally-driven businesses have not yet reached critical mass, there are good examples of companies that are taking advantage of new ways of working and doing business to build the businesses of the future. We’ll be discussing this in an upcoming WhatTheyThink webinar scheduled for July 20 at 1 pm ET!
According to County Business Patterns, in 2010, US establishments in NAICS 323117 had an annual payroll of $1.1 billion. Payrolls declined over the first half of the 2010s, at least on a current dollar basis, but started to rise again, closing out the decade at $993 million in 2019. However adjusting for inflation, payrolls declined by -25% over the course of the decade. In macro news: what’s going on with the real estate market?
What are the least-read articles in Wikipedia? With any luck passkeys will replace passwords. When AI tries to recreate famous brand logos. WearGraphene’s graphene-enhanced jacket is now available. COVID-sniffing dogs may be more accurate than PCR tests. Proto-chickens and giant demon ducks. “DRM wheelchairs.” A high-tech cane for the elderly. Bored Ape Yacht Club avatars are getting stolen with monotonous regularity. The fascinating history of Salisbury steak. A giant giraffe sculpted out of chocolate. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly miscellany.
In this photo gallery, we highlight some recent window graphics projects that display graphics providers have produced. These application galleries are intended to serve as “food for thought” in developing creative applications for clients.
Leading up to the UK’s Design Futures 2022 competition, textiles expert and WhatTheyThink contributor Debbie McKeegan spoke to one of the judges, designer Phoebe English. A dynamic thinker with a careful, considered approach, Phoebe is on an ever-evolving search to better her practices, making her the perfect judge for this year’s innovation challenge which is focused on design for circularity. Learn more about her advice to designer applicants.
There are many ways for brands to establish an emotional connection with their customers, and doing so can foster loyalty while also delivering a better overall experience. Marketers understand that specific colors have different effects on the human mind, and therefore trigger different responses. This article explores how certain colors can trigger an emotional response and create a deeper connection between consumers and brands.
In this follow-up to last week’s article, Steve Falk, president of Prime Data, discusses how his company determined its carbon footprint, how it came to be the first carbon-neutral direct mail house in the world, and invites members of the industry to use its tools to come up with their own carbon footprints to do the same.
It is critical to compensate for the differences in your particular papers and inks compared to the color standard you’re trying to match. Print Geek Dan Gillespie of Alder Color Solutions outlines how effectively using color science/software is the most accurate and efficient way to reach the tightest conformance achievable.
Just as in web-to-print software solutions for commercial printers, online package creation is facilitating the rapid growth of shorter-run packaging to address the shifting market demands. These new online transaction design and procurement web-to-pack solutions, in combination with digital presses and laser die cutters, are also enabling many commercial printers to find a lift into becoming a packaging converter. David Zwang takes a look at the current web-to-pack landscape.
European section editor Ralf Schlözer reports from Print Matters for the Future, the annual conference of Intergraf, the European association representing the national printing associations in Europe. The event was held live in Stockholm on May 20, 2022 and tackled a diverse range of topics including the paper shortage, Amazon’s impact on the industry, sustainability, and more.
In this space, we have written a great deal about how the digital transformation is proceeding in the world of textiles and apparel. Mostly we have looked at supply chain, including the digital technologies that make reshoring more viable and production of textiles and apparel more sustainable. In this article, we take a look at how the fashion industry is jumping on the NFT bandwagon, generating an amazing amount of revenue, and, they hope, more customer loyalty.
Graphene-based, self-heating wallpaper. The Mona Lisa is attacked with cake, for some reason. A hyper-realistic first-person writer video game in which you try selling short stories to magazines. Morningstar’s latest update on “supply chain disruptions.” Is there any point to recycling plastic? Dyson is closer than ever to robot housekeepers. NY State program distributes robots to the elderly to combat social isolation. A hamster genetic engineering project goes awry. Monotype studies how typefaces affect emotions. 3D printing a human ear from the patient’s own cells. Bees are now fish, at least in California. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly miscellany.
Last month, the International Sign Association (ISA) hosted a webinar that summarized the results of their 2021 Wage & Benefits Report for the Sign, Graphics and Visual Communications Industry. We take a look at some of the top-line results.
Last week we wrote about British home decor firm Gillian Arnold leveraging digital printing to bring production of wall coverings in house. This week, we share another wall covering success story that started with digital production of 200 square meters of wall covering by Digital Space for Marriott Hotels.
There is a lot of talk about recycling, but less talk about reusing, across a variety of product types from soda to sweat pants. Reuse has a key role to play in a circular economy, and packaging is one of the key offenders in terms of waste. The good news, though, is there is increasing interest on the part of brands, retailers, and consumers in reusable packaging, whether it is an insulated water bottle or a crate like the milkman used to leave on our doorsteps for refilling. (I’m old enough to remember that!)
Is it possible to know the carbon footprint of direct mail? Canada-based Prime Data decided to find out. It invested in research to determine the footprint of direct mail in its home country as a foundation to understanding the company’s own role in the larger ecosystem and what to do about it.
Expos and exhibitions are interesting opportunities to sell, but the event alone is not enough to generate leads or close sales. Selling at trade shows takes a strategy and preparation. In part two of a two-part series, contributor Pat McGrew offers some do’s and don’ts for selling print software at trade shows.
Yelp and Chasing Paper introduce wallpaper supporting small local businesses. Robotic “stores on wheels” can chase you around public spaces. Amazon opens a physical clothing store. A graphene-enhanced supercar. AI wins the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament. NYC’s last phone booth is removed. Have an Icelandic horse respond to your email. A volcano…full of sharks. A “potentially hazardous” asteroid passes by Earth tonight. Hard seltzer made with real holy water. Go out in style (if that’s the word to use) in the Kiss Kasket. Margaret Atwood takes a flamethrower to an unburnable copy of “The Handmaid’s Tale.” All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly miscellany.
According to County Business Patterns, in 2010, US establishments in NAICS 323113 had an annual payroll of $1.8 billion. Payrolls were generally unaffected by the Great Recession and rose over the course of the 2010s, at least on a current dollar basis, finishing out the decade at $2.3 billion in 2019. However adjusting for inflation, payrolls declined by -10% over the course of the decade. In macro news: Q1 GDP revised down.
An installation at Buffalo, N.Y.’s Central Library features a series of photographs taken by Armed Services veterans. With a special focus on spreading awareness of the struggles veterans face with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), The Odyssey Project includes photographs from 42 veterans, printed and installed by Buffalo Canvas, a display graphics and signage provider.
The quality of inkjet printing has improved over the years, so more and more print volumes have shifted away from electrophotographic printing and toward inkjet for productivity and cost reasons. This article offers some considerations about the future of the EP market as the drive toward inkjet continues.
This British design house adopted digital heat transfer dye sublimation printing for on-demand manufacturing of home decor. Now they have turned their attention to wallpaper, bringing production in house with latex printing. The success they have achieved makes them a role model for a production process for sustainable home decor that gives creatives more flexibility than ever before.
Infegy’s Trust Index gives a look into the companies with the highest trust levels based on its analysis of social media conversations. This leads to the question: How, exactly, do we measure trust? Is quantifying it even possible?
The way you’ve always done it vs. the innovations currently available in the marketplace, mostly in the form of software, can create a lot of tension in your business. Mutual respect for both perspectives is the key to better outcomes.
When the pandemic hit in 2020, to keep business flowing, many printers seized the opportunity to step into the wide-format space, producing pandemic-related signage, floor graphics, and face shields. Fast-forward to 2022 and these wide-format heroes find themselves facing a new set of issues—all threatening its continued growth. Contributor Joanne Gore looks at these new challenges.
WhatTheyThink is the global printing industry's go-to information source with both print and digital offerings, including WhatTheyThink.com, WhatTheyThink Email Newsletters, and the WhatTheyThink magazine. Our mission is to inform, educate, and inspire the industry. We provide cogent news and analysis about trends, technologies, operations, and events in all the markets that comprise today's printing and sign industries including commercial, in-plant, mailing, finishing, sign, display, textile, industrial, finishing, labels, packaging, marketing technology, software and workflow.